Ice cold or room temperature?

Pet hates – The chill factor

Katalin Kiszel-Kohari - June 29, 2019

The temperature of wine is one of my pet hates.

I mean I do like when certain wine served the right temperature but the rough generalisation of white should be served ice cold and red should be served at room temperature is simply not true.

Just to give you an example you cook a steak in a smoking hot griddle pan for a short period of time and a brisket on a low temperature for quite some time. So because it is a different cut you treat it differently to get a delicious result.

Same applies to wine.

Different styles need different temperatures.

I used the word style deliberately. You might find it strange, but a Valpolicella, a light-bodied red should be served on the same temperature as a White Burgundy, a full-bodied oaked white. You can get a rewarding outcome if you serve them at about 13°C. Being lightly chilled will firm up mellow tannins in the red wine and the same temperature will open up your full-bodied white to release its lovely aromas.

Over-chilling the white can mask all your volatile aromas and leave you with pronounced acidity. What a pity when you have a flavoursome wine potentially showing lots of fruits.

Whereas a red wine, literally pretty much any red wine will lose its flavours, fruitiness over 18°C. It is the nature of alcohol. It just boils off taking all the freshness and aromas too.

If you do not believe me, please do try it!

So the temperature range for serving any wine is shorter than you think, about 10°C-12°C. That includes sweet wine, champagne, fino sherry, claret, Amarone della Valpolicella and Vintage port. It starts at well chilled at 6°C and ends at room temperature which is 18°C.

Now you think that 18°C is not really room temperature. Well, it kind of was when the good people of France came up with it couple of hundred years ago when there were no central heating, air-conditioning or refrigerator in sight.

They relied on cellars that gave constant temperature (8°C-12°C) through seasons.

As of my experience in restaurants white wine tend to be served over-chilled, no matter what sort of wine it is, and red wine tends to be just simply too warm. I suspect the reason behind it that this has been expected from them because of some wine myth and they just try to prevent complaints but no avail.

You just cannot please everyone, in this case me.

Photographs by The Tannin Addict.